UC regents to hear from Fossil Free UC advocates, discuss status of audit implementation

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The UC Board of Regents will hear from student advocates about divesting from fossil fuels and discuss the status of implementing audit recommendations.

At the Investments Subcommittee meeting Tuesday, a representative from Fossil Free UC will speak to members about divesting from fossil fuels — specifically divesting from commodities and real assets, according to Isabella Muscettola, an organizer with Fossil Free Cal. Muscettola added that Fossil Free UC was given the opportunity to speak after students met with UC Chief Investment Officer, or CIO, Jagdeep Singh Bachher in Oakland on May 4.

“We’re hoping to pressure (the regents) to stick to a timeline, be more transparent and publish publicly what they are planning to do in terms of divestment,” Muscettola said. “We’re making it visible that divestment is happening and that this university is in the process of divesting from index equities.”

UC Office of the President, or UCOP, spokesperson Stephanie Beechem said in an email that the UC has sold its coal and oil sands investments and has increased investments in renewable energy as part of a commitment to “following principles of environmental sustainability and responsibility.” Beechem added that the UC plans to reduce certain oil and gas holdings over time, based on market risk, while investing in “alternate assets.”

On Wednesday, the Compliance and Audit Committee will hear updates on the UC’s progress on implementing the recommendations made by the California State Auditor, or CSA. As of April 25, UCOP has fully implemented 11 of the total 33 recommendations, up from the seven it had implemented as of October 25 — on the other hand, the regents have fully implemented one of the seven total recommendations, with no change from October.

The partially implemented recommendations for UCOP include developing a reserve policy to determine how large the reserve ought to be and how its funds should be spent, as well as presenting the proposed budget versus actual expenditures to the board of regents. According to a summary from the CSA, the latter pending recommendation might affect the state’s higher education funding decision.

“This is a critical recommendation that, if successfully implemented, will significantly improve stakeholders’ ability to hold the Office of the President accountable,” the summary said. “Not completing the budget recommendation on-time is an important deficiency in the Office of the President’s response to the audit.”

A new addition to the Academic and Student Affairs Committee agenda is the “Student Experience at the University of California,” proposed by UC Student Regent Paul Monge. According to the discussion item, the committee will receive student data that highlight academic support opportunities and challenges.

“What Paul was doing was to make sure we highlight a different group of students — students with children, veterans, undocumented students,” said UC Student Regent-designate Devon Graves. “(It would be) used to keep students engaged and keep the regents on what the student experience is like.”

Revati Thatte is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @revati_thatte.